In Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities he outlines the greed and excess of Wall St in the 1980s. Financial players were making huge amounts of money and felt no responsibility for their actions. The movie Wall Street saw Michael Douglas immortalise the phrase ‘greed is good’!
The excess of the few has continued in more recent times, even as members of the public who are working for a reasonable wage are suffering under high prices, high interest rates, high fuel prices, and more.
US President Obama is angry that managers who ran the AIG insurance group so badly that it required government bailouts are now getting huge bonuses.
The South African Cabinet are no less angry of the payout, believed to be between R5m and R8m, paid to the SAA CEO who has agreed to leave the company. A company that required a R1,5billion injection from the government just to keep operating.
Des Squire raises the notion this week of business leaders being accountable for their action, and having some integrity. Are leaders really accountable if they take huge bonuses and retention payments even when the companies they are running are performing so badly? Why do these business leaders across the world think that they can get away with this, when most people have to work very hard just to make ends meet?